While most experienced drivers are completely tuned in to the road ahead of them, distractions can have a huge impact. In fact, distractions within vehicles was the second leading reason for over 2000 accidents in 2020, only behind impairment due to alcohol.
There are plenty of things that can draw your attention away from driving. With some insights from van leasing company, Van Ninja we’ll take you through some of the most common distractions that can occur. This way you’ll know what to be cautious of and avoid while you’re on the road.
Tailgating: the biggest distraction for motorists
Not every distraction comes from within your vehicle, as driving safely also takes into account the environment and other traffic. In a survey conducted by IAM RoadSmart of 1,000 British motorists, tailgating was one of the most popular responses, with 30% stating it’s the biggest distraction.
Tailgating is the act of driving within a short distance of a vehicle ahead of you, and it’s not just frustrating to feel like you’re being followed closely or hurried, but it’s also dangerous.
The appropriate stopping distance between vehicles varies depending on the speed limit and driving conditions, so if you’re having to make a quick emergency brake you’re more likely to be involved in an accident.
There’s no real way to avoid other people tailgating you, but when you’re behind the wheel of your own car, it’s important to stay calm and drive within the limits and laws of the Highway Code.
Eating & drinking: you could be fined for careless driving
Despite the myths you might have heard like wearing flip-flops or smoking, it’s not illegal in the UK to eat or drink while driving.
It’s always good to carry a bottle of water with you to avoid dehydration, especially as research has found that it can have an impact on concentration. It was discovered that even a reduction of 2 or 3% hydration can result in a drop of 20% drop in concentration.
However, if a police officer perceives you to be distracted from your driving while eating or drinking, you could be fined for careless driving. This comes with a fine of £100 and between three to nine penalty points on your license for four years.
To avoid being distracted by eating and drinking, have a bottle close by that you can take a drink from quickly, so your hands aren’t occupied for too long. For food, it might be better to avoid anything that you can’t grab with a single hand so you can keep the other on the wheel.
But for the safest results, wait until your vehicle has come to a halt before reaching for snacks and drinks.
Mobile phones: keep them out of sight and out of mind
No matter whether you’re a car owner or leasing a van, mobile phones have advanced to the point where most of the global population own a smartphone. Research from Uswitch found that at the start of 2022, there were 71.8 million mobile connections in the UK.
This means that more than ever there’s the opportunity to get distracted while on the road, and in 2020 the UK government recorded that 17 people were killed and 499 were injured in collisions that were caused by the use of a mobile phone behind the wheel. Using a mobile phone, satnav, or tablet while driving is illegal, and the maximum possible fine is £1,000 as well as 6 penalty points on your license. In extreme cases, it could result in a driving ban.
If you need your phone for entertainment or directions from a navigation app, connect your phone to your car entertainment system either through Bluetooth, an aux cord or USB cable. Letting contacts know that you’ll be behind the wheel also helps to avoid any phone calls coming through, further distracting you. While it’s tempting to have a quick check of your screen when you hear a text ping through, wait until you’re safely parked and stationary before you open it.
Many drivers actually put their phone away in the glovebox while driving – out of sight, out of mind.
The most crucial thing is not to let the frustration or stress of a reckless driver around you affect your driving. And you can keep your mind at ease knowing you’re operating your vehicle within the law and not at fault.